More Domination

Posted: November 26th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 177 Comments »

The Eagles continue to win, and to win big. They beat the Bears 31-3 in a game that wasn’t even that close.

How good are these Eagles? They played sloppy football today and still blew the doors off Chicago. There were four fumbles. There were at least four offside penalties. There were holding and false start penalties. Carson Wentz badly overthrew a wide open Zach Ertz on one play. There was a kickoff that went out of bounds. Every unit had a hand in the sloppiness.

When the Eagles did this in the past, they struggled. Or lost.

This team sees mistakes as speed bumps. The mistakes slow them down, but don’t affect the outcome. To be fair, the opponents haven’t been good recently. The flip side of that is the Eagles are a big part of those teams struggling.

The defense is playing great football right now. They haven’t allowed a TD in the past two games. They have held the past four opponents to 238 yards or less. Chicago had 140 yards of offense and only 6 rushing yards. 6!!!!! The only way the Bears got that high is an 11-yard scramble by Mitch Trubisky late in the game.

This was a case of the Eagles just overwhelming the Bears offense. There seemed to be penetration on every play. Runners were dodging tacklers in the backfield and fighting to get back to the line of scrimmage. Trubisky was under regular pressure when he tried to throw. The receivers struggled to get open. The Bears offense had no chance.

Carson Wentz and the offense piled up 420 yards and 31 points. Zach Ertz was the big story. He missed the Denver game and then was shutdown last week by the Cowboys. The Eagles got him involved early and often. Ertz finished 10-103-1, delivering Philly’s first 100-yard receiving game of the year. LeGarrette Blount almost got 100 on the ground, but came up just short at 97 yards. Alshon Jeffery has played his best football in recent weeks and that continued today. He was 5-52-1 against his former team.

There were some weird moments in the game. Malcolm Jenkins picked off a pass in the 1st quarter. He was in traffic and went backward, then got hit and fumbled the ball back to Chicago. Jay Ajayi broke loose for a long run, but got him from behind and fumbled the ball into the end zone. Nelson Agholor hustled on the play and scored the TD. Great effort on his part. Blount broke off a 35-yard run and then got stripped of the ball downfield. Late in the game, Rasul Douglas picked off a pass and the Eagles had an elaborate celebration. Only problem…replay showed the ball hit the ground.

By blowing another team out, the Eagles kept some streaks going.

  • They have scored 30 or more points in five straight games.
  • They have won three straight games by 28 points.
  • The Eagles are only the fourth team in the last 50 years to win four straight games by 23 or more points.
  • They have scored 20 points in every game this season and in 15 in a row. Only team to do either of those.

The coaches have some things to clean up, but this team continues to play dominant football.

10 and 1.

I didn’t see this coming, but boy is it fun.

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Gameday – CHI at PHI

Posted: November 26th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 419 Comments »

Chicago is known as the Windy City and it seems like they brought some of that wind with them.

Keep that in mind during the game.

Here are the inactives for the Eagles.

No Beau Allen so Elijah Qualls gets back on the field. Destiny Vaeao will get increased snaps as he becomes the #3 DT.

Marcus Johnson is inactive and Shelton Gibson makes his NFL debut. No idea why that’s happening, but it will be interesting to see if the Eagles go deep to Gibson or if he gets any touches.

LB Dannell Ellerbe is still learning the scheme.

DE Steven Means is also active. I hope he’s able to get mixed into the rotation.

As for the Bears…

LB Pernell McPhee and DL Akiem Hicks are playing. They could be slowed by injury. We’ll have to wait and see how that goes. The Bears need both of those guys if they have any chance of slowing down the Eagles.

*****

I’m interested to see how Jim Schwartz defends the Bears. They love to run the ball, even QB Mitch Trubisky. The Eagles will likely play a lot of 8-man fronts to deal with this. They could also blitz off the edges, trying to pressure Trubisky and keep him in the pocket. You don’t want him getting loose on the edges and having the run-pass option. You want him in the pocket trying to read the defense and make traditional throws.

The Bears don’t have great WRs so playing man coverage isn’t something that scares you. Dare them to beat your DBs.

If the Eagles can get anywhere close to their average (32 points), I think the Bears are in big trouble. I just don’t see Chicago scoring a whole lot today.

*****

How cool is this?

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Deuces

Posted: November 25th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 46 Comments »

Number two overall pick Mitch Trubisky will be taking on number two overall pick Carson Wentz on Sunday. Beyond that, there aren’t a lot of compelling angles to the Bears-Eagles game.

There have been some odd games in the series. The two met in a forgettable game last year, with the Eagles winning 29-14. There was a wild game in 2013. The Eagles won 54-11. There was the 2011 game where my long lost son Brian Rolle returned a fumble for a TD. I miss my son. If you go back a decade, you find rock bottom.

The 2007 game featured one of the strangest moments in Eagles history. The Bears had the ball near midfield. Olin Kreutz snapped the ball and the QB wasn’t expecting it. The ball was away from everyone when Sean Considine scooped it up and ran it down to the 8-yard line. What a great moment, right? Only there was a flag on the ground. It turns out that if the QB never touches the ball, this is called an illegal snap and is a 5-yard penalty on the offense, but they get to keep the ball. UGH!!!

The Bears got the ball back and went down and kicked a FG. The Eagles did take the lead in the game and then pinned the Bears at their 3-yard line with 1:52 left and no timeouts. They had to score a TD to take the lead. No way they do that, right? Brian Griese led his team right down the field and they scored with a few seconds left. Brian frickin’ Griese!!! The Eagles fell to 3-4 and never got above .500 that year. A win there might have gotten them into the playoffs.

I really should learn to let go of things, but that game still bugs me. Thank goodness for Carson Wentz and the current Eagles.

I wrote my preview of the game for PE.com.

This is a game the Eagles should win, but the Bears could be tougher than expected. The X-factor is injuries. Chicago just put OLB Leonard Floyd on IR. ILB Danny Trevathan is doubtful to play. DE Akiem Hicks expects to play, but missed some practice time this week. OLB Pernell McPhee also missed practice and there is some question about whether he’ll play.

Chicago stays in games by playing solid defense. If they’re missing too many guys, that group could get overwhelmed and this could be a blowout.

I’m curious to see how things play out. The Bears have faced the third fewest passes in the league. There are a variety of reasons for that, some good and some bad. There have been six games this year when the opponent threw for fewer than 195 yards. They’ve only given up 11 TD passes all year.

When I watched the Lions game (last week), I saw Matt Stafford have plenty of success throwing on them, especially from 3-WR sets. The Eagles haven’t thrown as much recently so it will be interesting to see how the Eagles attack Chicago.

The cool thing about this game is how quickly the tables turned from last year. Last November it was Wentz who was the rookie QB going after Super Bowl contenders. Now the rookie is coming after him.

Life in the NFL can change in a hurry.

*****

If the Bears have a chance in this game, they’ll need to play outstanding defense and will need to make impact plays in all phases of the game.

  • They beat Carolina by scoring a pair of defensive TDs.
  • Rookie Tarik Cohen has a 70-yard reception this year.
  • Three different players have runs of 46 or more yards this year.
  • DB Adrian Amos, former Penn State starter, has a 90-yard INT return.
  • Cohen is a dangerous, aggressive returner. He has yet to break a huge return this year, but certainly has the speed and skill to do that.

Eliminate the big plays and the Bears will have an incredibly hard time pulling off an upset.

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Game Review – PHI 37, DAL 9

Posted: November 24th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 65 Comments »

Dallas had no chance. Everyone was sure of that. Without Tyron Smith, Sean Lee and Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys would need to play a flawless game to beat the high-flying Eagles.

I didn’t fully buy that notion. This was a rivalry game and I’ve seen the Eagles on the other side of the equation. I watched Bubby Brister duel Troy Aikman in Dallas in 1993 and the Eagles kept that game close. You just never know how a team is going to respond in a rivalry game.

The Eagles came out red hot and were up 7-3. They made that look easy. Maybe too easy. The rest of the 1st half was a slopfest, by both teams. Dallas was able to go into halftime with a 9-7 lead.

You know Dallas was feeling good at that point. The mighty Eagles didn’t look so mighty. Carson Wentz played less like the 2017 MVP and more like the 2016 rookie. Dallas had even been able to run the ball with some success. What world were we living in?

There was also the matter of Jake Elliott being hurt. What do you do when your kicker is in the concussion protocol? LB Kamu Grugier-Hill did some kicking on the sideline. Things didn’t look good when one of his practice kicks missed the net and went into the stands. Fore!!!!!!!!!

Thank goodness for halftime.

Doug Pederson and his staff had some problems to solve. As they have virtually all season, the coaches made the right adjustments and came up with the right solutions. That meant running the football more. Going for it on 4th downs inside the 40 and 2-point conversions after any touchdowns that might be scored. It also meant Grugier-Hill would get to kickoff, if the Eagles could manage to score.

The Eagles took the opening kickoff and marched down the field for a TD. They added a 2-point conversion and suddenly it was 15-9. That staggered Dallas and the Eagles dominated from there. They outscored the Cowboys 30-0 in the second half. 30-0. Wow.

There was a lot of hype going into the game about Dak Prescott vs Carson Wentz. Put simply, we won’t be having that argument for a while. Prescott played the worst game of his young NFL career. This was a night when his team needed him to be at his best and he was just the opposite.

This doesn’t mean Prescott is a bad QB or that he’s completely overrated or anything like that. Prescott is a good player and there are plenty of teams who would love to have that young man playing for them.

What we did see is that he can struggle outside his comfort zone, which is having a stud LT and dominant running game. Prescott took a beating the week before so Dallas made an effort to have him get rid of the ball quickly. That meant he was going to need to put together long, methodical drives. They struggled to do that and weren’t getting chunk plays (only one more than 20 yards).

Even worse, Prescott made big mistakes. He threw 3 INTs and fumbled once. To be fair, the final pick was a desperation throw and the fumble came on a strip-sack from behind. Those were tough circumstances. The first two picks were bad. Amazingly, they didn’t cost Dallas any points. Still, they hurt field position and just aren’t plays you want your QB making.

Beyond obvious mistakes, Prescott struggled with his accuracy. He overthrew an open receiver along the sideline on a 3rd down play. He put the ball too low at other times. He wasn’t giving his guys chances to make plays to help him out.

 

COACHING

One of the differences in the game was coaching. The Eagles had an good gameplan that had some specific plays to attack Dallas. Between the gameplan and the Eagles OL, star DL Demarcus Lawrence and David Irving were largely non-factors.

Dallas did some creative things by running from 3-TE sets (Jim Schwartz hates facing 13 personnel), but I didn’t sense anything special from Dallas.

Doug Pederson stuck with his plan of deferring to the 2nd half. I love that. If the Eagles are winning at halftime, getting the ball lets them build the lead. If they are losing, they can come right out and correct some things.

There were some interesting strategic decisions because of the Elliott injury. Pederson went with the aggressive approach, as he has all year. The one thing I didn’t like was him being aggressive late in the half. The Eagles had no kicker and scoring a TD seemed like a long shot. Wentz threw a terrible pass that could have been a pick-six, but was dropped.

The offensive gameplan had some excellent run plays. The issue I had early on is that the Eagles didn’t run enough. Wentz threw 18 passes in the 1st half, with RBs only having 8 carries. That could work, but a lot of the plays were play-action passes. The Eagles did a lot with bootlegs and waggles, but Dallas did an excellent job on those plays. They covered the receivers and pressured Wentz.

In the 2nd half, the coaches stuck with the run and the Eagles OL took over the game. DL David Irving can be incredibly disruptive, but the coaches had a plan for him. They let him attack upfield and take himself out of plays. They used trap and wham blocks on him on some plays.

Jim Schwartz wanted to keep Dak Prescott in the pocket. The Eagles did a pretty good job of that. DEs played with discipline most of the time. There was one great wrinkle on 3rd down. The two DTs rushed as they normally would. The DEs lined up off the ball, standing up. They didn’t rush, but let the play develop and then attacked. This led to pressure from Barnett and an INT. 

Dallas did use 3-TE sets to run the ball effectively a couple of times. They had a 22-yard yard from this look, their longest play of the game. Schwartz said in his PC that the defense could have done a better job with how they handled the edge. Dallas got a numbers advantage.

PLAYERS

Carson Wentz had a mixed day. He finished 14-27-168 with 2 TDs. He made some terrific throws, but also some poor ones. He ran the ball effectively and did make some good pre-snap adjustments.

Wentz started red hot and led the Eagles to a quick TD. Hot turned to cold in a hurry. Wentz made some poor throws and his receivers dropped a couple of passes. It was a collective effort. Wentz was just 7 of 18 in the 1st half. He went 7 of 9 in the 2nd half, and that doesn’t include him going 4 for 4 on 2-point conversions. He played much better and the offense piled up the points.  Read the rest of this entry »


A Tale of Two Teams

Posted: November 22nd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 181 Comments »

Donovan McNabb, Terrell Owens and Brian Dawkins got the 2004 Eagles off to a 9-1 start, the same record the current team has. There are plenty of similarities in the two teams.

Both had star QBs who were drafted second overall. TO and Alshon Jeffery are big WRs who can outmuscle DBs. Both had outstanding DLs. Malcolm Jenkins and Dawk were outstanding Safeties and big time leaders. Both were strong on STs.

There are some differences and I wrote about the biggest difference for PE.com.

Put simply, physicality.

That team was all about the passing game. This team is much more about the run game. That means winning the line of scrimmage and physically dominating your opponent.

The low point of the 2004 regular season was a 27-3 beatdown by the Steelers. They destroyed the Eagles. It was ugly. I remember re-watching the game and just laughing at one run play where Darwin Walker was driven 10 yards off the ball. 10 yards!

The Eagles lost the Super Bowl (in case you forgot) to the Patriots. That was another AFC team with a strong OL and a big powerful DL. Those teams controlled the LOS and beat the Eagles.

This team hasn’t been beaten up by anyone. The Chiefs did win in Week 2, but a big part of that game was the struggles of Isaac Seumalo at LG. I firmly believe the Eagles would win a rematch (even if the Chiefs weren’t struggling, but were still playing well).

The 2017 Eagles have also been more dominant. Check out some scores.

34-7
33-10
51-23
37-9

The 2004 team, through the first 10 games…

30-8
49-21
27-6

The 2017 team has scored at least 20 points in every game. . The 2004 team won games 15-10 and 19-9. They only put up 3 points in the loss to the Steelers.

The other key difference is the TO factor. He came to the Eagles and brought talent, attitude and swagger. His presence changed the entire personality of the team. That was a good thing in the short run, but proved to be unsustainable because he was emotionally fragile and highly volatile. The Eagles also went from being Donovan McNabb’s team to McNabb and TO’s team.

Carson Wentz is the leader of the 2017 Eagles. Offseason additions like Jeffery, Chris Long, LeGarrette Blount, Tim Jernigan, Torrey Smith, Patrick Robinson and Ronald Darby embrace him rather than splitting the locker room. This is a united team with great chemistry.

This team just feels better. I expect this bunch to continue playing at a high level.

It will be interesting to compare and contrast the teams when all is said and done.

*****

Decent.

*****

This is kinda funny.

https://twitter.com/thefanaticsview/status/933295695687061504

Ajayi is fitting in nicely so far. Right now he looks like a steal. Let’s just hope he can keep this up.

*****

Elliott did some kicking today. He’s still not able to fully practice, but it seems like he’ll be ready to go.

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